Healing the mind in conversation

Our Spirit Group facilitator, Mary, helped me through an emotionally challenging, teary discussion by having me switch to referring to myself in the 3rd person rather than as I. Using this process (while cumbersome at first) really works in taking the sting out of words. Later on, during a counseling session, a therapist used the same method with He and I which made honest conversation easier to acknowledge.

Here’s an excerpt from an article I found from Psychology Today:

“When using third person or “non-first-person” pronouns during self-talk, you do not use pronouns such as I, me, or my. Instead, you speak to yourself (either in a hushed tone or silently inside your own head) using pronouns such as you, he, she, it, or your own first or last name. In recent years, a wide range of studies has found that third-person self-talk can improve emotion regulation and self-control by facilitating self-distancing and reducing egocentric bias

Years ago while learning to cope with and live with my relationship with my mother, I began to refer to her in conversations by her given name. While I absolutely did not have the gonads to call her Helen to her face, I recall the feelings of less lethal emotions when I gave myself permission to not refer to her with the beloved name of Mom. Of course, mom wasn’t actually the name she preferred…it was Mother. It’s highly likely that Mother is a loving name spoken from children to their beloved. But in my case it was a “formal” expectation which was another knife wound that separated mother and daughter.

In a FB conversation with a friend this morning, I referred to mom as Helen….and that’s what brought this whole train of thought coursing through my brain like a slow meandering stream. Use it if it feels good. We all have uncomfortably charged conversations

Until next time….

Losing the need to “tell my story”

When I was in the grips of pain, depression, and overwhelming anxiety which I blamed on my job, my role as caretaker of my elderly mother and Aunt, feeling like an outcast in my husbands family and hating who I was because of the way I was thinking and the way my body looked…whew…I felt like at every opportunity, I needed to tell my story. My story had no happiness but involved my upbringing, my loneliness, my familial burdens as well as every other thing that I considered to be my negative personal affliction. By telling my story, at least I got attention, I had a line of people who felt sorry for me, I had friends who would get down there in the mud and wallow with me. I thought I was fortunate *fist on forehead, that I at least had that!

Each step forward I thought I could make myself feel better by changing my surroundings and my personal appearance but the brick wall I was running into got thicker and thicker. Finally a therapist led me around the brick wall.

Today…I woke up feeling like I was going to have a sensitive pre-holiday day…but I started out mindfully feeling gratitude…I took my oldest grandson to school this morning and he chatted as if he was in my head and knew I needed to hear what he was saying….gratitude. I’m babysitting my 3 year old grandson today and he’s laughing and full of joy…gratitude. I was thinking about Christmas past and I felt gratitude….I was loved and I have friends and family who love me. When my grandson pushed the button on the paw of a toy dog that sings Blue Christmas over and over again, I felt gratitude. My mom bought this stuffed dog for herself a couple years before she died…I felt an unusual thankfulness for my mother and her gift to me of memories of those cherished christmases past. For a moment, I felt myself wanting to rethink my story…the familiar story I used to tell myself… but I just stopped and realized gratitude was my new story and here I am. Right here and right now, I’m so thankful!

Happy Holidays….

The thing about Birthdays

Welcome to my therapy session…With the exception of the boys-grand babies, every birthday that comes and goes, I feel a little lost….not because of everyone being a year older but birthday celebrations created by my mother are missing! I wish I could ask her why birthdays and holiday celebrations were so important to her and why she knocked herself out making everything special. Always a meal of favorite foods, a birthday cake and presents. When it came to him and the girls, I always felt she was stacking more work on me because I had to think and let her know, for each birthday, what I thought they would want the most! I, now, understand what that “burden” represented to me in our dysfunctional relationship! Was this the way she showed us love or was she playing out through us what she missed out on as a child because her mother died when she was still a child? As the matriarch of our family, have I dropped the ball? After my mother died and my girls moved around, I stopped feeling the need to make everyone’s birthday a national family holiday….does anyone else miss it? This is making me tear up and that’s how I know I must recognize the memories for what they are which is a destructive thought pattern of the past lubed up with feelings and emotions that are in the past. And the only reason they are bothering me today is because I’m not centered and I’m allowing these thoughts and emotions to appear as a reality now instead of living right here, right now…

I’m so thankful to my mentors….and it takes a chorus of them….to teach me….or perhaps learn with me…how to live our best life today…. This post all happened because I wished the husband Happy Birthday this morning! No celebration today because our Des Moines kids drove down yesterday to surprise him and we all did dinner together at his restaurant choice. It was fun! There was love! In my heart I realize that’s all that is important!

Until next time….

So..after all these years I’m not lonely?

That needle in a haystack…that feeling of loneliness that is like a thread with no knot that pulls through the eye of the needle?

I can’t really say I never recognized the loneliness…I know it has always been there but I’ve always given it a different name and excuse…but today, TODAY I had one of those revelations that will change me.

As an only child with older parents and with the only first cousins living 2 1\2 hours away with the youngest first cousin being 11 years my senior, I didn’t have the Facebook shared idyllic family….about siblings and cousins…but I had the absolute best neighborhood to grow up in. While so many of those neighborhood friends had siblings to share the disappointment of the street lights coming on in the summer signaling time to call it a day, for the most part I went in the house alone. But because I had Lennie (whose siblings were older and out of the house) and other neighbor kids my age, I didn’t really feel I was missing anything. The first holiday that I remembered I was a lonely, only child was when my bff roommate went camping on the 4th of July in the late 70s and I didn’t have the energy or the confidence to find something to do without her. I felt like everyone else had a fallback…there was always a sibling to glob onto.

I surrounded myself with friends who became family during my adult years. I married into a large family that I didn’t fit into when I thought a large family would be the answer to my loneliness! But, I always enjoyed deep and fulfilling friendships….unlike many of my sibling rich friends who are recovering from their own painful broken relationships with family.

It didn’t hit me until this morning that the silent grudge I held against my parents for not providing me with a perfect sibling nor the loneliness that I was positive I alone owned was all in my head…ego..totally controlled by what I THOUGHT was missing because I made it a thing! Had this life role I’m living played out differently, would I still feel lonely if I had blood siblings rather than my chosen friends who became family? I’m going to post this blog and then take a moment to breath into the reality that I am loved, I am exactly what I am supposed to be in this moment..because this is all there is…right here and right now.

Until next time….

Nina Sue want a turtle?

This is a story I cherish.

When I was young and very young, my dad would take me on long walks down the dusty gravel road at Grandmas. Usually we ended up at the little cemetery about 1/2 mile down the road. He would point out headstones of our dead ancestors and share with me the stories about them handed down generation to generation. I’ve often contemplated hypnotism in order to recall these stories….and to relive one last trip down the road with my dad.

Often along the road, we would see turtles and my dad would say ‘Nina Sue want a turtle’ and Nina Sue would politely say No, daddy. I wanted to want a turtle because it seemed important to my dad…but ewwwwww. One day he brought a bucket along with us, scooped up a turtle and carried it back to grandmas…..I’m guessing he thought I would eventually change my mind if I saw the turtle in different habitat! EWWWW. Before we headed back to Des Moines, he released the turtle down by the road.

Walking along the pond this morning, I had a moment of connection with my dad and a few tears..I still think ewww even though I appreciate critters and nature more and more as I age. bit most of all how I would love to hear my dad say, Nina Sue want a turtle!

Until next time….

Sometimes…..

sometimes we get so caught up in the drama and speed of our lives that we don’t remember, realize, recall just how lucky we are and how much we are loved, as well as, our capacity to spread our love around.

We spent a long weekend “back home” in Iowa.  My heart was beating out of my chest Friday watching our youngest daughter as she worked with deaf kids participating in Iowa Baseball Camp for the deaf.  Several players for the Iowa Cubs along with volunteer leaders and interpreters worked with the kids all week which culminated in the Friday morning game played on the field.  The pure joy on the faces of the kids as they hit balls and ran the bases and watching the pure joy of the adult staff feeling the feels from the kids was a warm fuzzy!

Today, I spent the day with old friends and their family (because of who they are and how they love actually feels like my family)!  We were there to celebrate the 25 th wedding anniversary of Mark and Denise…..Denise wearing black shirt.

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The four of us are seldom all together but when we are, we fall back into rhythm and finish sentences we started last time we were together!  I also snapped pics from their video of He and I at the wedding 25 years ago.

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I’m proud to say I’m the one wearing the green dress with the large white bow in my hair 👀….. which begs an answer to the question…why did we wear big bows in our hair?

I am blessed, I am loved and I love!

until next time….

The silverware of our lives

As an only child and only niece … actually the only child born to two sisters from the teens of the 1900s…. I inherited everything. Almost 9 years since my mother and aunt passed, I’m still sorting and sorting, storing and donating and then doing it all again the next time I start feeling overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I have. Today, I went through silverware…some of it I grew up with either at home or my aunts….and I’m sure most of it was handed down from their childhood….and I have a set of silverware from his mother….and I have silverware that I actually purchased for us that my kids grew up with. That paragraph does not EVEN include the good silverware that I keep in velvet lined boxes and bring out for large family meals. Ya. I still do that. Setting a beautiful table is part of my DNA.

Going through all of the silverware today….hahaha….pictures to follow. I remembered this pattern and that pattern used during my life. My heart felt especially warm when I found the old ice tea spoons that we used for years before we got the new ice tea spoons. The new ones are at least 40 years old.

Here we go:

Just the serving spoons I continue to keep

The daily silverware that goes back in the silverware drawer…

The collection still laying on the bedroom floor

And the forks I bought at Goodwill one year….there used to be 4. These are mine…everyone knows it.

And for some reason that spoon is my favorite. No idea where it came from. Kind of the bastard spoon. It’s always the one I use if it isn’t dirty.

Just a glimpse into who I am.

Until next time….

The Wonder on his face

We spent New Year’s Eve with JJJJ tonight. After a great meal, we played some games then turned on CNN to watch Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper bring in the New Year in New York. Jenny and Justin had talked to Jax about what we were going to watch and what it meant….conceptually, I don’t know what he understood…but watching his little face when the ball dropped brought me so much joy. It was The wonder on his face as he was mesmerized by what he was watching on TV and when we all said Happy New Year and the joy when his dad gave him a hug and held him while singing New York, New York and finally the hug he gave grandma and papa when we left….the hug reserved for only special times….wonder…“a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.”

The experience filled me with love and hope for my grandchildren and for all of us in 2018!

Happy New Year!

One time he screwed up the pumpkin pie

…..and since then, his pies have been coveted by the family for the pumpkin pie holidays. It was simply the difference between evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. This year he added to the pie count with a butterscotch with meringue.

Delicious…and I’m not terribly embarrassed to say I ate one full size slice of each in one sitting.

We had the family for Christmas Eve Day Bunch and gift opening on Sunday and the second head cold of the month finally wore me down Sunday night so I didn’t go to the Brown/Faircloth/Callaghan Dinner on Christmas Day and while it just seems like a total bummer to be alone on Christmas, it was a little lonely with a slice of depressing, but doable. I ate brunch leftovers and watched movies for several hours. Remembering with gratitude all of the Christmases before helped me to remain positive seasoned with thankfulness!

Onward and Upward!

Until next time!

Being a gramma has helped me work through some guilt

I’m one of those lucky grammas….retired, I live close to my grandkids and get to spend quality time with them several days a week…and through the 4 year old, I’m opening myself up to life..love…acceptance…joy and sadness for what it is…right now…it is what is happening right now at this moment. There is no perfection in crafts, there is no horror about a little paint on the table, there is no hurry, there are no rules.. it just is what it is!

During my child raising years, I turned inward with guilt because I wasn’t building ginger bread houses out of graham crackers, I wasn’t playing Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders, and while I was helping force a Barbie leg into a Barbie outfit, I was not engaged in child’s play very often……that’s not to say never. But my girls and I, as children, had Aunt Frances. she was childless and never too tired to play a game, teach us to knit, take us to movies and just mindlessly play with us. We didn’t appreciate it at the time….and these memories are hitting me today because I feel the annual Christmas cry burning my nose.

Parents just don’t have time to be a co sibling or an Aunt Frances no matter what TV or internet posts tell you. Parents are working outside the home, worrying about the money, cooking, cleaning, attending school events, doing laundry, trying desperately to share adult time with their partner and just trying to be an adult. I’ve heard so many times that we wish we would have had our grandchildren first…I understand this. What a joy to see life through my grandchildren’s eyes. To live simply and to love until your heart bursts.

Until next time….